Inside Pitch: Manuel Still Backing Bell

If it wasn't David Bell, he of the limited spring-training action and the .199 batting average against right-handed pitchers last season, then the question probably wouldn't have been posed 14 at-bats into the season. However, the subject was David Bell, and he did have the league's worst batting average against right-handers last season. And in his first 14 at-bats this season, Bell only had one hit - a two-run home run gotten against a left-hander.

That's why Charlie Manuel was asked before Monday's night's game against the Braves how many at-bats would be a fair gauge as to whether Bell should see regular playing time against right-handed pitchers.

"Like I said before, he definitely deserves a shot to keep his job," said Manuel, who stuck with Bell in a crucial, late game situation in the first game of Sunday's double-header against the Dodgers, only to have Bell hit into an inning-killing double play. "How many at-bats does he have? Fourteen? That's not too many."

"I see how he's hitting the ball. He's not killing the ball by any means. But 14 at-bats - that isn't a good measurement at all."

Bell promptly bought himself some trust in Monday's 5-3 loss. He was 0-for-11 against right-handers before lining a single to right off John Thomson in the second inning Monday night. He got another hit against a right-hander in the sixth inning when he lined a two-out RBI single to center off Lance Cormier.

So if Bell needed to buy some confidence, he did so.


  • Ryan Howard has just one RBI through seven games, and it came via a solo homer in an Opening Day loss. Howard is hitting .292, but he's just 1-for-9 with runners on base.
  • Chase Utley hasn't been very productive in the cleanup spot. He has three hits in his last 22 AB and is batting .150 against RHPs and just .143 with runners on base.
  • Abraham Nunez, Alex Gonzalez and David Dellucci - all added to the Phillies' bench by GM Pat Gillick - are hitting a combined .143 (4-for-28).
  • Brett Myers plans on being more aggressive in 0-2 and 1-2 counts in the hopes of cutting down the large pitch counts he has compiled in his first two starts. Myers averaged 95 pitches in his first two starts even though he went just five innings in each of them.
  • Rheal Cormier has had an encouraging start to the season after a disappointing 2005. Cormier has pitched three shutout innings and is healthy after dealing with nagging back and elbow discomfort last season.

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